Dorothy Pathak, PhD

Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Family Practice

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
909 Wilson Road Room B601
East Lansing, Michigan 48824
Telephone: 517.353.8623

Professor Pathak has been involved in epidemiological and bio-statistical research for the past 25 years, first at the University of New Mexico and now at Michigan State University. In both settings the principal focus of her work has been studies of cancer etiology and prevention. After receiving her doctorate in biostatistics, Dr. Pathak served as a statistical consultant and co-investigator in a variety of research studies. In 1980, she was Co-Principal Investigator on the “Steroid and Hormone Study,” evaluating the effect of oral contraceptives on breast cancer risks in pre-menopausal women. In 1983, Dr. Pathak obtained a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research at Harvard led to the publication of paper on the crossover effect of parity on breast cancer risk. Continuation of her work at Harvard resulted in a joint grant during 1986-88 with Dr. Alice Whittemore from Stanford, to further evaluate the effects of body size, parity and menstrual events on breast cancer incidence in seven countries. Since 1983 Dr. Pathak has increasingly concentrated her attention on the problem of breast cancer.

Dr. Pathak’s move in 1995, to Michigan State University was undertaken in order to further develop her research on the effects of migration on breast cancer incidence among Polish immigrant women, and therefore proximity to the large Polish-American populations of Detroit and Chicago was an essential ingredient. In October 1997, her five-year grant entitled: “Breast Cancer in Women of Polish Ancestry,” was funded by the National Cancer Institute. The work on this grant is in progress. The accrual of subjects for this study is ongoing both in US as well as in Poland.

In addition, Dr. Pathak has developed close ties to the MSU cancer center, a unit that also has strong interests in breast cancer prevention. At MSU she holds a tenured joint appointment within the Department of Epidemiology and the Department of Family Practice, and thus another principal research interest is the integration of epidemiological and preventive concepts into the practice of family medicine. In 1998, she was funded by the Department of Defense to conduct a study entitled: “Improved Follow-up of Breast Abnormalities Through Comprehensive Breast Care in Women 40 to 70 Years of Age.” Through her position in the Department of Family Practice, Dr. Pathak is uniquely suited to lead this effort to improve compliance with recommendations for the secondary prevention of breast cancer among the Family Practice residents and attending physicians from eight Family Practice Residencies affiliated with MSU’s Family Practice Department. The work on this grant is in progress.